Photo: Gustavo Petro and his running mate Francia Márquez celebrate their victory. Source: EFE/Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda.
On Sunday, Gustavo Petro won Colombia’s presidential election with 50.4 percent of the vote, defeating his opponent Rodolfo Hernández, who garnered 47.3 percent of votes. This election saw the highest turnout in Colombia since 1994, with 58 percent of the electorate voting. Petro, who has campaigned for the presidency three times, will be Colombia’s first leftist president, and Francia Márquez, his running mate, will be the country’s first Afro-Colombian vice president. As Hernández conceded the election, sitting President Iván Duque guaranteed a peaceful and democratic transition of power. Petro ran on an anti-establishment platform, promising to expand social programs, increase taxes on the wealthy, and transition the country away from extractive industries and towards a greener economy.
In a country with a long history of violence between the state and armed rebel groups, Petro’s past membership in the guerrilla group M-19 raises concern among some sectors of the Colombian population. During his victory speech, Petro called for unity and stated that all members of the opposition will be welcomed at the presidential palace. As Colombia’s new leader, Petro will inherit the implementation of the faltering 2016 peace accord and the crisis in neighboring Venezuela. High levels of violence in many areas of Colombia also loom in the background of this historic election.